Trends in healthcare communications

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Part
01

Insights and Trends - Healthcare Communications

In reference to our findings, the trends in healthcare communication that are specifically focused on how hospital systems communicate to their patients, employees, and the press include online communication as support in health services, the increased use of mobile technology to humanize health services, the increased transparency in communication, the adoption of medical wearables for communication, integrating different communication channels, and the increased patient engagement and patient centered communications. Our research strategy and a detailed look at each trend follows below.

METHODOLOGY

To address the research criteria, we leveraged leading industry publications, expert blogs, and informational databases in our search for information on healthcare communications trends. We began by searching for case studies of hospital systems that we could use to derive communication trends and insights. Examples of the healthcare systems that we looked at include Universal Health Services, Catholic Health Initiatives, Encompass Health Corporation, Ascension Health, Community Health Systems, and Duke Health. The common insights across these systems was the use of Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality via websites and mobile applications.

Next, we checked expert blogs and noted the key insights that they contained. Our intention here was to get industry expert comments, advice, and observations on healthcare communications trends that we could use to address the research criteria. Through this strategy, we were able to identify several trends, but we picked the trends that were common across several expert blogs. We then expanded our search to include leading publications within the healthcare industry such as the National Center for Biotechnology Information and Elseveir. Our aim was to identify the common and most recent healthcare communication insights using the information that was available in these publications. Using this strategy, we again identified relevant trends such as transparency when communicating to employees, patients and the press and the use of telemedicine and electronic platforms. Finally, we used the most recent and most common healthcare communications trends that featured across different health systems to answer the research question.

TRENDS IN HEALTHCARE COMMUNICATION

1. ONLINE COMMUNICATION AS SUPPORT IN HEALTH SERVICES

Following in the footsteps of the latest technological innovations, virtual assistants that are based on Artificial Intelligence are consolidating data in the healthcare industry to make how hospitals communicate with patients more effective. In addition to creating medical appointments online communication services are also used for constant communication support including "sharing cases, tutorials or examples in a more didactic and immediate way."
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are already being used in healthcare communications. For example, AR and VR are already being used to help patients that have mental problems and beyond this, these technologies are a "great educational and playful tool for the benefit of patients and health specialists."

In addition, there is an aspect of telemedicine where videoconferencing is used to provide at-home care for the elderly and mobility challenged.

2. INCREASED USE OF MOBILE Technology TO HUMANIZE HEALTH SERVICES

In 2018, mobile applications started to be implemented in healthcare communications because they presented a viable way of humanizing health services. Examples of such implementations include "applications that help reduce stress prior to an operation or an invasive medical test and applications that keep family members informed when a patient is hospitalized." Such instances are examples of how mobile applications are key to internal and external communication within a healthcare facility.

3. INCREASED TRANSPARENCY IN COMMUNICATION AS A DIFFERENTIAL VALUE

In the healthcare industry, there is an increasing level of distrust because of the sensitivity of personally identifiable health information. Consequently, companies in the healthcare industry have been rethinking their communication policies to ensure there is transparency in communication to stakeholders that include patients, healthcare workers, and the press.

Advantages of increased transparency in healthcare communications include "faster response to the media, improved accessibility to data of interest to the patient and the promotion of a solid internal management of care and service." Additionally, boosting accessibility and transparency of online consultation is likely to boost the reputation and customer loyalty of a firm in the healthcare industry.

4. ADOPTION OF MEDICAL WEARABLES FOR COMMUNICATION

Medically appropriate wearable devices are constantly being worn on the body to monitor health parameters and transmit the collected data to users and medical professionals so as to ensure timely communication. Wearable medical devices continue to become popular because of the fast pace of today's life because they are an efficient way to bridge the communication gap between patients and doctors and enhance health services.

In 2018, the number of people that were using telehealth devices like smartwatches and fitness trackers to track their health metrics and well-being increased to 7 million people globally. In addition, "patients are provided with monitoring devices to control diseases and take proactive steps towards mitigating possible consequences."

5. USE OF INTEGRATED COMMUNICATION CHANNELS

The use of different and integrated communication channels gives individuals in the healthcare space the opportunity to offer more channels for patients, the press, and employees to ask questions, comment, and give their opinions. Integrated communication takes place through the use of various communication channels that include online and "mouth to mouth" communication methods.

6. INCREASED PATIENT ENGAGEMENT AND PATIENT CENTERED COMMUNICATION

Another trend in healthcare communication entails increased patient engagement in issues of healthcare that is supported by the growing availability of digital tools like wearables, patient Electornic Health Record systems, and content libraries.

There is increased use and promotion of "patient portals through in-office touchpoints such as digital signage and during consultations and office visits." Additionally, communication is also being done through patient portals via "out-of-office touchpoints like on-hold messaging and website content."
Part
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Part
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NYU Langone - Healthcare Communications Approaches

NYU Langone communicates with their patients and employees through their social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. On the other hand, it does so for the press through press releases, often sending them out through Newswise. Besides the CEO, the communications organizational structure begins with the Senior Vice President for Communications and Marketing who responds directly to the CEO. In turn, the VP, Communications and Marketing oversees an Assistant Vice President of Marketing, who oversees a Senior Director of Advertising & Marketing. The Senior Director then oversees other Associate Directors.

Basically, to find information on how NYU Langone communicates to their patients, employees and the press, we scoured and gathered relevant information from the company website, news agencies, and social media channels such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. However, finding the communication organizational structure was a bit challenging. Hence, we searched for the communication positions at NYU Langone on LinkedIn and gathered these positions to build an organizational structure.

HOW NYU LANGONE COMMUNICATES WITH THEIR PATIENTS

NYU Langone communicates with their patients through their social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. For example, the hospital posted a video on Instagram on the 11th of March 2019, informing their patients to see a doctor at the hospital without leaving their homes if they were still being affected by the flu season. Also, on the 31st of March, the hospital posted on Twitter that it was National Doctor's Day and asked their patients to post their stories on the hospital's Twitter account to honor a doctor that the patients were grateful for.

HOW NYU LANGONE COMMUNICATES WITH THEIR EMPLOYEES

NYU Langone communicate with their employees through its various social media platforms such as Twitter. For example, the health agency took to Twitter to congratulate their Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Dafna Bar-Sagi for being elected as an AACR Academy Fellow on the 27th of March 2019. Similarly, through its Twitter account, on March 15th, 2019, they congratulated their doctor, Joseph Bosco who is the Vice Chair for Orthopedic Surgery at the hospital, for becoming the first Vice President of AAOS.

HOW NYU LANGONE COMMUNICATES WITH THE PRESS

NYU Langone communicates with the press through press releases. For example, a press release was sent to Newswise about the new neurointensive care unit that was opened at NYU Langone and the news agency released this information on the 29th of March 2019. The health agency also released news about rheumatologist Yamen Homsi being appointed as Chief of Rheumatology at the agency in a press release on Newswise on the 27th of March 2019.

NYU LANGONE'S COMMUNICATIONS ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE

Based on information from LinkedIn, NYU Langone has a Dean and Chief Executive Officer as the leader and then, several senior vice presidents who report to him, including the Senior Vice President, Communications and Marketing. So, the structure follows in this descending order:

Note that there is also the Senior Director of Internal Communications, a position that seems new and was advertised on March 21, 2019.
Part
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Part
03

Mayo Clinic - Healthcare Communications Approaches

Mayo Clinic uses the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN) to guarantee their staff and stakeholders possess the necessary means to apply social media tools that support research, education, and clinical practice. Premium members of MCSMN are given access to monthly webinars and a discussion board. Caregivers and patients can use social media platforms to obtain answers, share their experiences, and search for support. The Mayo Clinic News Network provides access to Mayo Clinic Minute and 200 articles that are published monthly. The service provides trending news stories, special reports, and expert alerts. Meanwhile, the Senior Communications Specialist and the President/CEO serve in prominent roles in the Mayo Clinic's communication organization. Finally, networked communications (i.e., email accounts, internal telephone system, etc.) are a fundamental component to the functioning of the Mayo Clinic.

MAYO CLINIC

SOCIAL MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS

The primary aim of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN) is to assure that the company's stakeholders and staff possess the resources, guidelines, and training to implement social media tools in support of research, education, and clinical practice. Mayo Clinic's MCSMN showcases with colleagues what the company is creating. Colleagues can also learn from each other about global concerns and issues. On the other hand, caregivers and patients can use Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels to search for solutions and assistance, as well as share their experiences.

Premium members of MCSMN are granted access to monthly webinars from Mayo Clinic and a members-only discussion board. The company's Social and Digital Innovation (SDI) crew manages its overall social media presence. They also consult with its stakeholders interested in specialty or professional accounts.

HEALTHCARE COMMUNICATIONS NEWS NETWORK

Mayo Clinic News Network consists of a core cross-division group of nine individuals to compose and circulate reliable, daily content. Approximately 200 articles are published every month, along with the daily "Mayo Clinic Minute", a 60-second video. Furthermore, there are expert alerts, trending news stories, and special reports distributed routinely, as well as recurrent emails. Its content can be located and shared on numerous social media outlets such as:


COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT/PUBLIC AFFAIRS

The Department of Public Affairs at Mayo Clinic serves the demands of audiences (the public, patients, and employees) by providing a "broad spectrum of experience in the field of corporate communications." To do this, it utilizes an array of media such as video recordings, electronic publications, audio recordings, intranet, Internet, and print publications. The Mayo Clinic's Director (Division of Community Public Affairs) directly oversees the community engagement leaders in partnership with community engagement/relations specialists and Public Affairs leadership in the Mayo Clinic Health System.

Since community engagement activities in the Mayo Clinic Health System are confined, they have reporting and structural connections that are different for every region. Hence, they are not obligated to report to the Director of Enterprise Community Engagement (DECE). The DECE, in collaboration with the Chair (Division of Community Public Affairs), is responsible for supervising, regulating, and developing the strategy and implementation of enterprise-wide community engagement.

MAYO CLINIC RADIO AND HEALTH MINUTES

Mayo Clinic Radio is hosted by Tom Shives, who serves as the orthopedic surgeon of Mayo Clinic. It presents thousands of listeners with a favorable, simple strategies concerning subjects like the latest news, along with information on heart health, prevention, exercise, and nutrition. Moreover, Mayo Clinic Radio Health Minutes provides knowledge on wellness, health, and science that is presented five days out of the week. It is also accessible by podcast soon after the broadcast. Mayo Clinic Radio Hour is delivered weekly and usually repackaged in the form of podcasts. Both presentations are available for download through media outlets and the radio stations.

MANAGEMENT ROLE IN COMMUNICATION

At Mayo Clinic, the Senior Communications Specialist is responsible for developing strategies for communication. They must also supply guidance and strategic communications consultation to multiple clients. Additionally, they plan, monitor, drive, implement, and measure the outcome of communications plans to promote the company's business objectives, mission, and strategic arrangements. Meanwhile, the President/Chief Executive Officer of Mayo Clinic is obligated to confer frequently with staff on the performance, vision, and strategy of the company.

NETWORKED COMMUNICATIONS

Mayo Clinic employs numerous networked communications for internal functioning such as:


Part
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Part
04

Memorial Sloan-Kettering - Healthcare Communications Approaches

Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) uses online portals and other channels to communicate with patients, employees, and the press. Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Avice Meehan is the head of MSK’s communication department and reports to President and CEO Craig B. Thompson. Below, we will provide more information on how MSK communicates with their patients, employees, and the press, and how their communication organization is structured.

PATIENTS

MSK mainly uses its website and social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to communicate with its patients and the public. Patients can sign up to receive clinical publications or fundraising/marketing materials from MSK. The MyMSK patient online portal provides communications with patients. Patients can also contact MSK via phone for matters related to appointments, medical records, billing, and others.

EMPLOYEES

MSK primarily uses its career web page and blog to communicate with current and future employees. It also uses an online employee portal for communications with current employees. Current and future employees can sign up to access MSK’s online talent community to “receive updates on new and noteworthy happenings at MSK.” MSK will also hold mass meetings with doctors/employees when the organization is going through a crisis.

PRESS

The press can contact MSK’s media staff via phone or email. MSK’s website has provided the general email and also key contacts for Jeanne D'Agostino, the Director, Media and Public Relations and other staff. Journalists can also log into the online journalist portal to communicate with MSK.

STRUCTURE OF COMMUNICATION ORGANIZATION

An examination of MSK’s media contact web page, leadership web page, and active employees on its LinkedIn account have revealed that Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Avice Meehan is the head of MSK’s communication department. Based on the structure of MSK’s leadership team, Meehan reports to the President and CEO Craig B. Thompson. Director, Media and Public Relations Jeanne D'Agostino and Director, Media Strategy and Planning Kathryn Blank report to Meehan. Other staff in the communications department includes media relations managers, media strategists, and others.

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Part
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Mount Sinai - Healthcare Communications Approaches

Mount Sinai Health System communicates with its patients, employees and the press through social media channels, ad creatives, press releases, news updates and web content published on the official website of the organization. The communications department is led by a Senior Vice President of Communications and Marketing who is supported by a Vice President of Communications and Marketing and a Director of Communications alongside media and public relations directors.

Research Methodology

The research team commenced the research to determine how the communication organization of Mount Sinai is structured and how the company communicates with its patients, employees, and the press, by scanning through the newsroom section on the official website of the healthcare organization. We also scanned through their social media channels as well as the LinkedIn pages of their key executives in order to identify how the healthcare organization has structured its communications channels. Fortunately, we were able to obtain relevant information regarding the communications channels that the healthcare organization relies on when interacting with its patients, employees as well as the press. However, further research was not able to reveal how the communication organization of the company is structured.


In order to establish the communication organization of Mount Sinai is structured, we scanned through the newsroom section available on the official website of the company. We were able to establish that in 2018, Mount Sinai appointed a new Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications. However, even though we were able to identify the duties and responsibilities of the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications, we were not able to obtain any relevant information regarding the chain of command or the communication structure of the organization. Therefore, we could not establish to whom the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications reports or is answerable to.

We further scanned through the official website of the organization and we were able to identify the company's media team. Unfortunately, there was neither any relevant information detailing the duties and responsibilities of the members of the team nor the chain of command that could help us establish how the members of the media team coordinate their communication activities. We also searched for the specific roles of the members of the media team on LinkedIn to try to obtain their duties and responsibilities so that we could figure out their chain of command or the organization's communication structure, but we were not able to find any relevant information.

As a last resort, we tried to locate any organizational charts for the company that could help us establish the communication structure of the organization, but the search was not fruitful. We were hoping that using this strategy would enable us to determine the chain of command of the media team. Unfortunately, the only relevant information that we were able to obtain related to the fact that the Vice President of Communications in some branches of the hospital network reported directly to the CEO.

Communication Channels

1. PATIENTS

Mount Sinai uses ad creatives as part of its marketing communication with patients. The hospital network relies on TV commercials and print advertising as the marketing communication channels to reach out to its potential clients. The ad creatives primary highlight the organization's commitment to provide lifetime compassion care as well as reinforce the healthcare service offerings that the organization provides to patients including quality patient care, unrivaled innovations in breakthrough research and education, as well as community service. Additionally, the organization also interacts with patients through social media channels including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram as well as by publishing web content on its blog.

In its efforts to increase language accessibility, Mount Sinai provides interpretation and translation services that enable patients who want to communicate with any language other than English to access their healthcare services. The organization also has a pool of sign language interpreters who cater to hearing-impaired patients. They also provide assistive devices and written language translation services that aid communication with patients.

2. EMPLOYEES

Mount Sinai has a set of by-laws that govern how information is handled between the organization and the staff members. In addition, the organization has established an Office for Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), whose primary purpose is to offer educational opportunities to its staff members in efforts to promote equity and inclusion in the diverse population that the organization serves.

3. PRESS

Mount Sinai welcomes journalists and the press to approach its media team to schedule expert interviews for stories about the hospital network. The organization has a newsroom section on its official website through which it publishes news updates and press releases to its patients and the public regarding any new developments such as new employees who have joined the organization, breakthrough research, and new systems. Mount Sinai relies on its established set of by-laws that governs how information is distributed to the press and the public.

Communication Hierarchy

The Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer is responsible for all marketing communications, public relations activities, and branding efforts at the hospital network. The organization's media team has a Vice President of Marketing and Communications and a Director of Communications and Marketing alongside other media and communication directors.

Part
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Part
06

Montefiore - Healthcare Communications Approaches

Montefiore communicates with its patients, employees, and the press through mainstream media such as newspapers and magazines, as well as social and multi-media platforms. The organization's public relations department is strictly in charge of all communications with the media. The structure of its communication organization is not very clear but based on the organization's Public Relations Staff Directory, three managers report to two assistant directors, who in turn report to a director, who then reports to the vice president of public relations.

METHODOLOGY

We began our research with a review of the organization's website. From the homepage, we attempted to identify as much information as we could about the structure of the communication organization. We found that the public relations department comprises a vice president, a director, two assistant directors, and three managers. In addition, we learned that all media requests should be coordinated through the public relations office. We, however, could not identify to whom the vice president reports. In addition, its website's homepage indicates a significant social media presence.

We did discover on the website's Leadership page that Lynn Richmond, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, is responsible for, among other areas, public affairs, community relations, and strategy implementation.

In an attempt to make a connection between the organization's Public Relations Staff Directory and its Leadership page, we searched further through the organization's website, news sources such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, company data sources such as Hoovers, DataFox, and CrunchBase, and industry news such as Becker's Hospital Review to try to find an organizational chart, annual report, or news release, but none was found. We could not find enough information to determine if the vice president reports to the executive vice president or if there is an intermediary level in the hierarchy. Information on Montefiore's organizational structure is not clearly defined likely because it is a not-for-profit private company and is not required to make its affairs public. Its last annual report was published in 2013.

HOW MONTEFIORE'S COMMUNICATION ORGANIZATION IS STRUCTURED

Based on the organization's Public Relations Staff Directory, three managers report to two assistant directors, who in turn report to a director. The director of public relations then reports to the vice president of public relations. Lynn Richmond, executive vice president, and chief strategy officer has the responsibility for public affairs and community relations, as well as a company-wide integrated strategy.

HOW MONTEFIORE COMMUNICATES WITH ITS PATIENTS

Montefiore communicates with its patients through community involvement, which is coordinated through the office of community relations. The office of community relations publishes a list of support groups available in the community.

Montefiore uses social media to communicate with its patients by posting about upcoming workshops and other items of interest on its Twitter feed. It also posts helpful tips on its Instagram feed with similar, but not identical posts on Facebook and provides users of both platforms a slightly different experience. On its YouTube channel, it has stories of real cases treated at the hospital. Its LinkedIn content is slightly different as it is geared more towards professionals who would be in the healthcare industry.

HOW MONTEFIORE COMMUNICATES WITH ITS EMPLOYEES

A primary mode of communication with employees is through publications designed for associates such as the biweekly Update, and the quarterly Inspired. Update informs employees of "new initiatives, research outcomes, and events happening across the health system," while Inspired is a magazine dedicated to sharing "what makes working at Montefiore such a special experience."

HOW MONTEFIORE COMMUNICATES WITH THE PRESS

According to its media and press policy, "all news media and production requests are referred to and coordinated by the public relations department." Its associates are forbidden from discussing patient health information with the media, as well as inviting or allowing media personnel into its facilities without the presence and prior preparation from the public relations department. In the event that an associate speaks at an off-site conference or event in the presence of the media, the public relations department is to be alerted immediately for advice, fact-checking, and tracking any resulting story.

Four news releases in 2019 from the public relations department are listed on its website.

Sources
Sources

From Part 03
Quotes
  • "Within the Mayo Clinic Health System, community engagement activities are localized and have structural and reporting relationships unique to each region. They do not report to the DECE."
  • "In partnership with the Chair, Division of Community Public Affairs, the DECE will develop, direct and oversee enterprise-wide community engagement strategy and implementation, including community giving, CHNA, and Mayo-sponsored community engagement events."
Quotes
  • "The SDI team maintains Mayo Clinic’s overall social media presence and also consults with Mayo stakeholders interested in professional or specialty accounts."
Quotes
  • "The Mayo Clinic Radio Health Minute and “Mayo Clinic Radio” program are available for download to radio stations and media outlets."
From Part 04